It’s scary to stare mediocrity in the face. Once you realize you inhabit a grey space between success and failure, you can’t block it out.
Imagine feeling that in the pit of your stomach as a GM in the winter of 2018, when the blueprint for winning in the NHL was to be astoundingly bad, then astoundingly good. Eight of the previous nine Stanley Cups belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. They tanked, loaded up on top-notch draft picks and constructed towering championship squads, riding top-heavy rosters of highly paid stars. And the cycle was continuing. The Buffalo Sabres were in the process of rappelling down the standings to eventually draft breathtakingly talented defenseman Rasmus Dahlin first overall, while two former laughingstocks, the Toro...
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